LAS VEGAS - In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, columnist Dan Henninger

declared that the ongoing failure of inner-city schools "remains

the greatest moral catastrophe in the political life of the United

States."  Personally, I think Mr. Henninger is understating the


Henninger was writing about the future of public charter schools in

New York City, noting that the Democrat candidate for mayor, "under

pressure from the city's teachers union, will start demanding rent

payments from public charter schools that now operate rent-free in

the same buildings occupied by traditional public schools."

Apparently New York City public charter schools, which are public

schools funded with public taxpayer dollars, are allowed to operate

in public school buildings, which, of course, makes all the sense in

the world. Alas, no such provision exists in Nevada, which, of

course, makes no sense whatsoever.

It also goes a long way towards explaining why there are so few

charter schools in Nevada - just 35. (By contrast, in neighboring

Arizona there are well over 526.)

Fact is the greatest impediment to opening more public charter

schools here is the humongous start-up costs involved in finding a

building in which to operate the school.  Which is also one reason

why so many new charter schools are opening as "virtual" schools,

in which students participate online rather than attending a

brick-and-mortar campus.

Granted, a recent change in Nevada law has set up a program for

lending money to start-up charter schools, but that's still not

good enough.  Loans have to be repaid, ultimately with taxpayer

dollars anyway.  So why can't vacant or underperforming regular

public school buildings be converted into a public charter school?

Indeed, a bill that would have allowed the parents of an

underperforming public school to vote to convert it to a public

charter school passed in the state Senate this year.  Unfortunately

it was killed in the state Assembly by Republicans - led by

Assemblyman Randy Kirner (R-Reno) - who voted against this

"parental trigger" bill because Kirner claimed, wrongly, that it

violated the state prohibition against using a public school building

for a public charter school.

Whether or not the state law prohibiting the use of public buildings

to house a public charter school would also prohibit "parental

trigger" conversions isn't the point. The point is if we want

more charter schools in Nevada - and we'd better if we ever hope

to actually improve education here - we need to completely remove

this ridiculous prohibition in state law.

Public charter schools are public schools which should be allowed to

use public school buildings just like the other public schools.  Is

there a legislator out there who cares enough about the education of

our children to propose removing Assemblyman Kirner's "trigger"


Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a conservative grassroots

advocacy organization.

He can be reached at